- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials have confirmed that the state has stopped servicing or tracking more than 700 self-help computer kiosks that were installed to replace dozens of unemployment offices closed in 2011 as a money-saving effort.

Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Courtney Greene told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2ktMKTt ) that it’s unknown how many of the kiosks are still dedicated to helping the unemployed. Initially, the kiosks were placed in public places such as libraries and homeless shelters.

Also gone is the virtual access points program’s special website, which included a live chat and toll-free number that offered technical assistance to kiosk hosts.

Greene said improved technology that lets Iowa residents file for weekly unemployment claims by smartphone has made the kiosks less essential. She said the kiosk system was discontinued as part of the department’s efficiency efforts.

“We have really tried to enhance our website, so people can get the resources they need by going there,” Greene said.

It’s unclear when the department ended the program.

Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor and an Iowa Workforce Development board member, said he doesn’t recall his board being informed that the kiosk system was being abandoned.

He said the kiosks were helpful but inferior to the work offered at the unemployment centers, where employees assisted people with resumes and interview skills.

“It’s disappointing, to say the least,” Sagar said. “It’s like they’re incrementally eating the apple a few bites at a time. Now they’re at a point where they’re not even taking care of the minimally tasked kiosks.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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